söndag 30 mars 2008

Spring and more butterflies

30:th of March 2008
Yesterday was the first day this year with temperatures rising above +10° celsius. For people living in a warmer climate, I know this must be hard to believe, but for us northern people it is hard reality. 
    It´s like my whole body can sense a final relief when the air surrounding me is above 10 degrees warm. 
    It´s like I can breath out and relax for the first time since ever. That is one of the most certain signs that winter is over.
    Another is the butterflies. Yesterday I saw the first Brimstone for the year, today I see several, and a couple of Orange Underwing Moths (Archiearis parthenias). One of which allow some close views and shots.
    The observation was made on Björnön - the Bear Island - during a sunny walk that also produced some Lesser spotted Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tits, singing Wren, Goldcrest, Treecreepers and Chaffinches. 
    4 Cranes soaring above, heading north, added to the visit as well.

fredag 28 mars 2008

Wagtail arrival

28:th of March
A little more spring in the air and an afternoon  walk along the Black River, downtown, offers this years first Grey Wagtail. 
    A misleading name on this beautiful, little bird with a striking, brilliant yellow underside.
   I´ve been looking out for it for a while and now I finally get my reward, a nice, very yellow bird is appearing on the riverbank not far from me. It walks out into bellydeep water and looks almost as it´s floating on the surface, as it takes a bath.
Then it gets up on the shore,  shakes it´s feathers dry and preens thoroughly. The picture ws taken on another occasion by Stefan Oscarsson. See more of his excellent work at www.osqar.se
    A male Bullfinch follows the wags example and takes a bath as well. A Dipper is perched on a rock just a bit upstream and as I walk back home a male Goshawk is soaring above me. 
    Even if the local city administration is doing nothing to enhance biodiversity, it still exists.

torsdag 27 mars 2008

Mighty Owl calls

26:th of March 2008
The night is cold, still and a totally overwhelming, starry sky is enough as attraction.  I find myself  just gazing up into that inmense oblivion. On my first stop, there´s not a sound, on my second stop the mighty call of a male Ural Owl reaches my ears. 
     On the third stop I hear the pumping call of a Great Grey Owl, a bit distant, but still. I move down the road another km and there it is again, much closer.
     It is repeating the dark, dull, hoot 7-8 times in a descending, slowing down mode. It´s very characteristic and atmospheric. If the Ural Owl call is the most powerful, "evil" sound of the northern Owl calls, the Great Grey call is majestic, pompous and just as dignified as the bird looks. Standing in the dark, looking up at the sky, breathing the cold air and listening to this mysterious sound, is such a quality experience. I feel grateful for this moment, yet I´ve experienced it so many times in my life. 
     The picture was taken on the 27:th of February, but illustrates this moment well, with the darkness surrounding the Owl, just as I could imagine it calling in the night.

lördag 22 mars 2008

Whetchok and Jayfeathers

22:nd of March 2008
Cold, northerly winds and snowfall can´t keep us inside. Some sunshine between the showers makes me and 2 of my 3 sons, Max and Simon, tempted to head out for a walk around Svanå. 
   From a river bridge at Skultuna we see 5 Dippers together in the stream. An unusual concentration I find, but maybe it´s no big wonder. 
    The North American Indian tribe Lillooet used to call Dippers Whetchok - the slave of the northern wind. 
Maybe because cold autumn winds brought migrating Dippers down to Indian territories. Could this be a fall of migrants heading north? 
    We find another Dipper as we walk upstreams along the Black River at Svanå. Some Long-tailed Tits, a close encounter with a Goldcrest and a concentration of 17 Blackbirds in a garden with a feeder, are some of the small birding highlights on this really cold day.
   Yes, and Simon found a whole bunch of Jay feathers on a stone, probably plucked by a Hawk.

Winter strikes back

19:th of March 2008
After a mild period, winter strikes back with some snow and cold, starry nights. A tour around the valley starts with Hawfinches and Bullfinches on my feeding station in the south. 
    Here at Färdskär, Haraker, I find a flock of Jackdaws feeding on a ploughed field, several of which have pretty striking white collars. 
    Could be eastern birds from Russia.
The following 4 pictures are from the same day, showing how different it may look in this relatively small area. Yes, by the way, the first Smew of the year appears by a couple of Goosanders in Lake Hällsjön.
Up on the forest, snow covers the ground. I flush an adult male Goshawk from the roadside and it keeps flying in front of me for quite some time before it actually perches in a treetop when we come to a clearing. 
    Not far from that I stop to investigate a track of footprints crossing the road. 
    I am just realising that they come from a small Grouse, when I hear a Hazelgrouse cock whistling some 20 meters away in the dense forest. I use my whistle to imitate it and it answers me back for around 15 minutes or so, without moving out into the open to give me a clear view. 
Funny, because at this very spot  I had a male who behaved just like this a couple of years ago. The same?
Some 350 Whooper Swans are still feeding on what now seems to be a lake, but is flooded grassland. A cuple of hundred Bean Geese and this years first Teals are also noted, from this excellent viewpoint at Ösby, Västerfärnebo.
Nötmyran - the vast floodplains and grasslands of the valley, with its red, little haybarns, is still very flooded. The view from Ösby is great as is the light for a few minutes in the afternoon.

Swan sundown

As I pass Lake Fläcksjön the sun is just descending behind a big snowcloud and again hundreds of Whoopers lie along the east shoreline.

onsdag 12 mars 2008

Plenty of Swans and water

11:th of March –08
Even if the waterflow is lower this week, there are still plenty of flooded fields in the valley. Ploughed, flooded arable fields are the most popular feeding grounds for the Whooper Swans, when they stopover on migration.
   Today I count 1.795 Whoopers in the valley. That´s plenty, but I sense that this years migration is going fast over due to the mild weather. 
   Even today, despite mist and overcast, flocks of migrating Swans and Geese, are flying northeast, taking advantage of the mild, southwesterly tailwind.

Misty day with Cranes

11:th of March
A misty day almost painted in grayscale, or faint, military green as most colourful. Spring is in the air and the smell of manour tickles my nostrils. 
   Aint that the true smell of countryside birdwatching? A positive smell, promising new arrivals of migrating birds in the farmland.
   Right here where this picture is taken I spot this years first Crane, plenty of Lapwings, Bean Geese, some Starlings and Stock Doves.
    I also get good views of a Rough-legged Buzzard.

måndag 10 mars 2008

First butterfly this year

Friday the 7:th of March
Today I saw the first butterfly for this year. Not unexpectedly a Small Tortoiseshell. It flitted around in my garden and immedaitely drew the attention to itself and got chased by a Blue tit. Eventually it got away. I could not approach it with my camera after that, so I publish one of my shots from last year.
     Just a great feeling though that a new butterfly-season has dawned! And I can´t help thinking how remarkable it is that these delicate little creatures can survive the winter up here.

tisdag 4 mars 2008

Bewick sundown

4:th of March
I find a Bewick´s Swan, my first for this spring, among the 250 or so Whoopers on the flooded fields south of Salbohed. A bird I´ve always liked. It looks so cute, just on the contrary to the Snow Buntings, it looks small to be big.
     Finally I take my favourite road down to Näs, at the north end of Lake Fläcksjön. The lake is open around the river mouth and some Whoopers lie here to.  The light is beautiful.
     The picture is from Näs 
overviewing the lake.

Spring in the valley

4:th of March
Northerly, cold winds, sunshine, blue skies, open water meets the ice. The open water on flooded fields and lakesides are getting filled with Whooper Swans. 
     I count 1.175 Swans on a drive around the valley. I find one tight flock of about 500 birds so tightly squeezed in a small puddle of open water, that they hardly seem to be able to turn around. 
     They fill the air with their loud calls, you can hear them 
everywhere. It´s lovely. I really love this part of the year. The valley is beautiful. There are also 
plenty of Taiga Bean Geese (Anser fabalis). About 2.228 Bean 
Geese are counted. Among  them I discover 8 Pinkfeet, and 8 Whitefronts as well. 
     Even a flock of 50 Snow Buntings are moving along the edge between ice and open water. Gorgeous little creatures, so big to be small.